[Book Review] A Stolen Life : A Memoir by Jaycee Lee Dugard

Fair warning: if you’re not comfortable reading the intro, don’t continue reading the actual review.

I first heard about the kidnapping of Jaycee Lee Dugard while I was browsing another missing children case, Madeleine McCann. I remember reading a page in my mother’s tabloid, in her office, one that she subscribed to at that time. There was two pages dedicating to the then still suspected kidnapping of Madeleine McCann. I remember those pages so clearly because a) the little girl on the photograph looked so vibrant and happy and pretty it’s just hard to imagine bad people hurting her, b) she was the big sister of younger twins and I was – still am – a big sister too, and c) she was on a vacation with her family and the parents left her and the twins for just a little while in their hotel room and poof – she was then nowhere to be seen. I did not google at that time, I was not familiar with the Internet enough.

It was expected that I would just forget about Madeleine’s disappearance case after a while – after all, there were many crimes seen on TV everyday and this case is not even close to home. But somehow, for reasons stated above, I found the case of Madeleine’s disappearance popped to my mind from time to time, and eventually popped in just when I was browsing some other thing – so I googled the name, and began reading Madeleine’s and some other similar cases, one of those was Jaycee Dugard’ case. Needless to say a little piece of my innocence was ripped off at that moment.

But then again, when I read the story, I was about twelve or thirteen, I guess, and knowing my age and her (Jaycee’s) age she was kidnapped was close – it made me feel uneasy. Plus I kind of figured she was used sexually by the man who kidnapped her, and eventhough I love biology and have basic biological aspect of woman reproduction system covered in sixth grade, I felt disturbed just reading the headline and after a quick scanning of Jaycee’s case (I got several keypoints : kidnapped, hidden, used, sexual abuse, pregnant, found, book) I closed the page. Maybe I found it disturbing because, well, I was a small town girl living in my safe little bubble, and reading this case was like peeking through a windowblinds just as the sun rise, it was new, it was scary, it can break my fragile little bubble and I was not brave enough.

Years passed, and just this month (I am nineteen now), I went to a book fair and was shifting through piles of piles of book in the biography section when I found the autobiography of Jaycee Lee Dugard. I don’t know how I still remember a case I read randomly on the Internet six or seven years ago. But I do know I need to read that book, and so I did. Here’s a little review and reflection I wrote as I was / after reading the book.

Sorry for the long introduction (and even longer time no posting). Here you go.

—-

Jaycee’s case was an unusual one. Kidnapped at the mere age of eleven, she lost her virginity to the abductor not long after she was snatched in that fateful day. For the first few years in captivity, she was locked inside sort of a trailerhouse in the backyard of her captor’s home (later she referred to the area as prison backyard or just backyard). I’m not gonna list what she had to face in those years, reading them was unsettling; writing them down feels impossible right now. But I’m sure you have your guess(es).

It was not until she was about fourteen and gave birth to her first daughter that she first saw the outside world again. And at that time she was too scared of the crowd, having been used to the company of only her captor Philip and wife Nancy. She gave birth to her second daughter at the age of seventeen. Some times after, she was given a false name, ‘Allissa’ and introduced to her daughters as their ‘big sister’. So that was life for her for eighteen long years, until finally the suspiciousness of the situation caught the eyes of police officers during Philip’s parole visits, and Jaycee was reunited with her family.

What I appreciate about this book is that there is no sugarcoating, Jaycee writes it as she remembers it. She even included pages from journals she wrote while in captivity. And then she also shared the aftermath of the abduction – how she coped with her situations, not only the physical and mental scars that would probably always be ther, but also the unwanted media attention, the yet new life she got, with bravery, dignity, honesty, and no hate whatsoever to what happened to her.

Reading the book requires  a lot of emotional preparation, I found myself pausing from time to time just to take a breath and calm myself down for what I just read shocked me. However, I’m glad I read this book, and even more that now I am sure you, Jaycee, are happy with your mom and sis and daughters and lovely therapist (are you still visiting dr. Rebecca?) and home, away from the media, living your life doubtless to the fullest. I wish you all the best in life.

Oh, and did I mention how BRAVE you are for writing that autobiography?

PS I realized I can’t do the review justice – you’re gonna have to read the book or watch her interviews with ABC News on youtube. I really thought I can sum up her story, I had it in my mind, but I can’t bring myself to actually type the word, it’s too hard.

 

Advertisements

Dibalik Memori yang Hilang dan yang Terbuang

Kecanggihan modalitas diagnosis di rumah sakit dan beratus obat bermerk kadang membuat kita lupa, tidak semua penyakit bisa disembuhkan. Demam berdarah bisa didiagnosis dengan cek darah, maag bisa dilawan dengan obat warung yang murah, tumor jinak bisa dibabat di ruang operasi dengan pisau bedah. Namun penyakit Alzheimer, proses kehilangan fungsi otak progresif yang biasanya menyerang lansia, jangankan diobati, untuk ditegakkan diagnosisnya saja sulit. Fungsi otak yang terganggu awalnya bermanifestasi dalam bentuk kehilangan ingatan jangka pendek atau umum dikenal sebagai pikun, dan seiring waktu  muncul pula gangguan kerja otot, kesulitan berbicara, kehilangan ingatan jangka panjang, disorientasi, bahkan kematian.

Buku ini mnceritakan penyakit Alzheimer dari sudut pandang seorang dokter yang sehari-hari berkutat dengan pasien tua, memberi pembaca gambaran solid mengenai penyakit ini…dan kisah menyentuh hati yang sering kali dialami bukan hanya pasien Alzheimer, namun juga keluarga dan teman terdekat mereka.

Judul               : An Ocean of Time, Alzheimer’s: Tales of Hope and Forgetting

Penulis            : Patrick Mathiasen, MD

Penerbit           : Scribner

Tahun terbit     : 1997

No. panggil     : 616.831.MAT.o

Mathiasen adalah seorang psikiater atau dokter spesialis ilmu kedokteran jiwa dengan ketertarikan khusus di bidang psikiatri geriatri (masalah kejiwaan pada lansia) khususnya  penyakit Alzheimer. Ketertarikan ini dimulai sejak ia kecil. Hampir semua kerabatnya dari pihak ayah menderita Alzheimer dan harus menghabiskan sisa hidup mereka di pusat perawatan lansia berkebutuhan khusus. Pada akhirnya, dr. Mathiasen menyaksikan paman dan bibinya meninggal dalam pelukan Alzheimer, menerima kabar tentang ayahnya yang tenggelam beberapa bulan setelah didiagnosis Alzheimer, dan puncaknya menyaksikan sendiri seorang guru dan sejawat – yang sudah ia anggap ayah sendiri – tiba-tiba bertingkah gila dan berteriak-teriak justru di hari perayaan pensiunnya beliau dari rumah sakit tempatnya lama mengabdi. Pada akhirnya sang mantan dokter senior ini pun didiagnosis dengan Alzheimer. Diagnosis yang menjadi kabar buruk bukan hanya bagi keluarga sang dokter senior namun juga bagi dr. Mathiasen yang seolah kehilangan sosok ayah keduanya. Dokter yang pernah menjadi presiden Asosiasi Psikiater Washington ini akhirnya memutuskan untuk mendalami psikiatri di Seattle setelah menyelesaikan residensinya di bidang ilmu penyakit dalam. Sepanjang pendidikannya menjadi spesialis ia menyaksikan derita fisik dan emosi yang menerpa pasien dan keluarga mereka – dan dorongan emosi ini menguatkan dedikasinya terhadap pasien Alzheimer.

Beberapa pasien Alzheimer atau dicurigai Alzheimer diceritakan dr. Mathiasen dengan apik dalam buku ini. Bridget adalah ibu dari sejawat dr. Mathiasen di bidang bedah jantung, yang dirujuk ke beliau oleh dokter keluarganya akibat munculnya perubahan perilaku setelah seorang saudara Bridget meninggal dunia. Wawancara dan pemeriksaan psikiatri tidak menunjukkan gangguan jiwa pada Bridget, dan dr. Mathiasen pun akhirnya memberikan surat keterangan sehat. Satu-dua tahun kemudian, ia dipanggil ke kediaman Bridget karena wanita itu mulai mengalami kesulitan berbicara dan gangguan gerak, yang sering ditemui pada pasien Alzheimer lanjut. Diagnosis yang mungkin sudah muncul di kepala sang anak, bagaimanapun juga, putra Bridget adalah seorang dokter. Namun seperti dikatakan perawatnya, sang putra ‘couldn’t even say the word [Alzheimer’s].’ Seorang imigran Italia bernama Mario terpaksa pindah dari rumah yang ia tempati bersama putrinya karena progresi Alzheimer yang ia derita membuatnya perlu diawasi terus-menerus. Dan June mungkin tidak akan pernah mampu merelakan minimnya terapi yang tersedia untuk neneknya. Kisah mereka banyak yang berakhir pilu, banyak yang terpaksa meninggalkan ruang periksa dengan perasaan berat dan seribu pertanyaan tak terjawab.

Tuhan Maha Adil, diagnosis yang menjadi petaka di beberapa keluarga justru menjadi berkah tersembunyi di keluarga lain. Degenerasi otak Mary Pearson membuatnya sering merasa berada di masa lalu, dengan suaminya yang telah meninggal dunia, berhalusinasi suaminya akan berangkat perang saat ia sedang mengandung putri pertamanya. Putri Mary, Susan, merasa bahwa ia menjadi lebih memahami masa lalu sang ibu dan hal ini menjadikan ikatan di antara mereka lebih dekat. Karen bahkan terang-terangan mengucapkan syukurnya bahwa sang suami terkena Alzheimer, karena ‘kebetulan’ penyakit ini membuat Lawrence terkungkung dalam ingatan masa terbahagia dalam hidupnya sebagai pemain baseball. Samuel mungkin tidak akan pernah bertemu kembali dengan saudaranya Arthur jika bukan karena diagnosis Alzheimer-nya. Sidney dan Jay, dua bersaudara yang kerap berseteru semakin mereka beranjak dewasa, melupakan kebencian diantara mereka saat sang ibu, ‘lupa’ bahwa kedua bersaudara itu tidak akur, memegang tangan dan berbicara kepada keduanya seolah mereka masih belia. Ia tidak menyadarinya, namun Laura, dalam sakitnya, justru menyembuhkan perpecahan dalam keluarganya.

Alzheimer, kata yang menjadi momok bagi banyak pasien tua, yang telah memisahkan dan menyatukan banyak keluarga, yang sulit dicari penyebabnya dan hampir mustahil dihentikan perburukannya. Namun dr. Mathiasen dan kegigihannya menunjukkan bahwa diagnosis Alzheimer bukanlah suatu impending doom bagi pasien dan keluarganya. Selama masih ada dokter yang mau mendengarkan dan kerabat yang mau memahami, optimalisasi kualitas hidup seorang pasien Alzheimer bukanlah hal yang mustahil terjadi. Do your best, Ben Carson pernah berkata, and let God do the rest. Kesulitan diagnosis dan perawatan Alzheimer bukan alasan untuk tidak berbuat apa-apa. A must read for (aspiring) psychiatrist, geriatrics caretaker, or just anyone who cares about Alzheimer!

 

Royal Wedding : A Meg Cabot’s Book Review

No one, at least those with continuos access to the Internet, will have never heard of Anne Hathaway and the many many amazing movies she’s starred in. My personal favorite is the Princess Diaries (probably because my helpless tendency to love fairytale-ish stuffs) – so I was notably upset when I found out that the book from which the movie is based is actually the first of (currently) nine books of the series.

Which I found out accidentally, by the way. Apparently the copy of the eleventh book, The Royal Wedding, was lying around in my bookshelves.

I love the way Meg Cabot writes the book : the occassional sarcasm, the way she develops Princess Mia’s personality (I was shocked that she’s 26 yo in this book, the princess was so small in the movie!), and the way everything about the book fulfills one’s fairytale-ish fantasy. Mia’s not so occassional sarcasm and insecurity really bring to light that no matter what your position in life, there are gonna be things that make you uncomfortable, and that’s fine : All of us have our own problems and our own unusual ways of solving things. All of us make mistakes and learn from them, and the sun rise and once again we will try to do our best.

Okay wise rant end here. Back to the book.

Doesn’t the cover just look amazing? Pict credit to geekiary.com

The story takes place in New York, and starts with the scandal caused by Mia’s father’s overspeeding in the highway of NYC with his newly acquired F1 car (apparently in an attempt to steal Mia’s mother’s attention, whom he apparently still in love with). Of course this only result in his arrest by the NYPD, and all the press just have  to put the news as their headline, potentially crushing Mia’s dad’s (later I learned his name is Prince Artur Philippe) chance at winning the Genovia’s PM election. Mia and her Grandmere (currently the dowager princess of Genovia) were also busy handling some other stuffs like refugee crisis, demonstration, and (for Mia) the new community centre opened in behalf on her late stepfather Mr. Gianini.

Mia’s long time boyfriend Michael Moscovitz proposed during their weekend getaway in an exotic Exumas island, right on her 26th birthday. Which is soooo cute. But also a little disastrous since apparently press always knows in advance of things like this and the date of the wedding as well as several details were out before either Mia or Michael get the chance to tell their families and friends personally.

And another drama : Mia has a half-sister. Apparently her father fell in love with a jet flyer Elizabeth Harrison and had a daughter with her, Olivia Grace. My first thought : Meg Cabot just goes all Grey’s Anatomy on us! (Really though, Shonda, Meredith having two half-sisters and not knowing about it until adulthood is a little too much). And her father has been paying child support too, as well as corresponding with letter to her. Hmm. Mia’s first impulse was to run to the girl and embrace her little sister, an impulse that just got magnified when she found out the girl’s family (Olivia is living with her uncle’s since her mother died when she was two) was about to move to Qalif. Although I appreciate Mia’s heroic action of going to New Jersey and save her sister from a school bully just in time, my logical side can’t help but frown at this : more scandal, really? As if the Dad-in-the-court and soon-to-happen-wedding is not enough to overwhelm oneself.

The book closed with a chain of joyous news : Mia turned out be 8 weeks pregnant with twins, Mia’s parents get back together (although this means her father abdicating the throne, thus putting Mia immediately next in line as Genovia’s ruler), Olivia and Rocky (Mia’s half brother) are going with them to Genovia, and of course, they’re married. Our beloved Mia Thermopolis and Michael Moscovitz, married!

Oh, and for the record, I would love for the twins to be named Luke and Leia (if they’re girl and boy). I mean sure naming the twins Arthur or Helen or Elizabeth or Phillip is good, but naming them after world famous twins is just epic. That’s what I will – or would – do if I were a princess giving birth to twin anyway 😀

The Host (2013) : Movie Review

I’ve forgotten how exactly the movie “The Host” ended up in my to-watch movie list, probably because it’s based on book of the same name by Stephanie Meyer, who also writes the Twilight Saga, which were so popular at the time. I skimmed through the movie first time, it was not until now (so practically 3 years later) when I was alone running out of to-watch materials that I decided to clicked on it and rewatched the movie, no skipping now (not that I could anyway lol)

The movie told the story of Melanie Stryder, one of few remaining humans after certain species called Souls infiltrate the Earth. Souls doesn’t exactly kill human beings. First of all don’t imagine Souls to look like your typical green big-eyed creature with long oversized ears that speak with funny voice – Souls in their actual form are small creature that looks like myriapods with long legs. Only more divine

1

They are inserted to the side of your neck and voila! The body is now theirs. (fun fact : the human body doesn’t change, only the irises now turn electric light blue. And it was soooo fascinating I could stare at them all days).

Back to Melanie : she was ‘infused’ (is that the right word choice?) by a Soul called Wanderer (later shortened to Wanda) after being chased by a team of Seeker in her desperate attempt to lead them away from her kid brother Jamie. Poor Jamie, now he had to stick with Mel’s unofficial boyfriend, Jared.

Melanie’s soul was supposed to be dormant now that Wanda is in charge, but she ‘fought’ and would often prevent Wanda from sharing her secrets (for example Jared and Jamie current location and where they were heading). At first Wanda won, but then she (Wanda) started to feel confused because she too felt the love Mel has for Jamie and Jared (aww) and followed Mel’s plan to run away to Uncle Jeb’s place. Well more like a secret camp, because turned out Uncle Jeb has his own little village perfectly hidden in an not-so-inactive volcano in the dessert (why did I only find this weird now?)

I have to say that until this point I quite enjoyed the movie for two reasons : the captivating electric light blue eyes the Souls have (did I say that already?) and the recurrent battles between Melanie and Wanda (is that how bipolar look like?). I secretly I hope I have sister-voice in my brain to coach me on doing stuffs I have no idea how (like escaped from a guarded building) – but that’s for another ramble.

The scenes that followed was actually a bit disappointing (sorry! But I check rotten tomatoes and they only gave an 8%). The writers and directors were just trying to be overdramatic without giving any background stories. Like, Ian was one second wanted to kill Mel/Wanda (because he was convinced she was a spy or something), lucky Jared was there, but then Jared was still cold to Mel/Wanda and suddenly Ian was all protective toward Wanda (even saying I like you, like you). Helloo develop some plot please?

Fastforward to the end, Wanda was suddenly the sweetheart in that little secret camp, but she realized she couldn’t be in Melanie’s body forevermore. She decided to have the village’s doctor removed her Soul so Melanie can be alive and well in her body again. Which is sweet, but also means she would have to die (actually not, a Soul can be transported to another planet where it can starts a new life, but Wanda feels like she doesn’t want to live in a world where people she cares about don’t exist. So Bella Swan). At a (not shown) last minute decision, Wanda’s Soul is infused instead to another human body (apparently they have some dying body in that place that would die hadn’t they infused Wanda’s Soul in).

*insert such dramatic, much fairytale doge meme here*

Anyway, that’s the happy ending for everyone : Jared-Melanie, Ian-Wanda. Epilogue : several months afterward the four was captured by what they initially thought were Seekers*, but they turned out to be a mixed group of Human and Souls living together just like them. One of the human in that group told the four that they are the forth mixed group they found, one where Soul(s) and Human forms alliance together.

Cheesy ending, but the Radioactive song playing at the end makes everything better! I wouldn’t strongly recommend this movie, but if you can shut down your logic for a while and have nothing better to do, this movie can be a pleasant view to watch. Applause to Saoirse Ronan for making Melanie/Wanda really entertaining, I really enjoy the internal debate/conversation probably a little too much.

And the icy blue eyes of those Souls : guilty pleasure. Low-key obsessed bruh.

 

Seekers : Souls whose job is to capture human

 

PS: Here’s some shots to show you why their electric light blue eyes are totes adorbs

 

Like it even looks good on the antagonist.

6

 

that’s all for now guys, c u next time!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Enemy : A Desmond Bagley’s Novel Review

So, for my (literally) last English reading assignment in my 12 years of school, I got this Oxford book entitled “The Enemy”. It was originally written by Desmond Bagley. Happy reading my summary! And yes, if you’re wondering,it has spoilers.

Not being in the mood to really study that night, I made a cup of coffee and took my The Enemy copy with me to the study room. If the characters of this book turned out to be depressed and misunderstood sort of people like in my previous reading, I thought to myself, I would close it and spend the hours sipping the coffee. Or chatting.

Which was, thankfully, the exact opposite of what I’d done that night. But how could you stop reading such a fast-moving, intelligently-arranged, unpredictable novel even if it has been abridged? When science met politic and the long buried secret was in danger of being exposed? When professionality was tested by love and idealism? To keep you from not wondering a second longer, here’s a short synopsis.

Malcolm Jaggard introduced himself as an economist to most people, including his hopefully father-in-law to-be George Ashton. He had been dating his lovely daughter, Penelope Ashton, for several weeks then and definitely found the biologist/geneticist attractive. He was spending a Sunday with the Ashtons when the first tragedy marking the beginning of this novel occured. Penelope’s own sister, Gillian, was thrown acid on the face by a stranger.

Penny was sad, and Malcolm can’t think of any explanation of the stranger’s behaviour. But Mr. Ashton reaction was the most confusing of all. He suggested –almost insisted- on Malcolm proposing Penny and taking a job in Australia. Weird, right? And because Malcolm was actually a spycatcher, and has access to secret databases, he used this to find who Ashton might be. It shocked him to find that George Ashton’s bio was not accessible to his level, red, and can only be accessed by those of black levels. And it shocked him more when his boss instructed him to guard both Penny and George Ashton.

But just as Malcolm arranged his spying plan, George Ashton disappeared. His letter explained little –if any- reason why, merely indicating his sudden departure with his servant Benson was to protect Penny and he wished Penny and Malcolm happiness. Nevertheless, no further information on Ashton made Malcolm’s work impossible, and he insisted on access to Ashton’s bio in the office’s secret database which his boss, however illegally and reluctantly, gave to him.

George Ashton turned out to be Aleksandr Chelyuskin, a genious Russian scientist who ‘retired’ from weapon lab’s work, faked his death, and moved to Britain. Here he ‘stole’ a dead man’s identity, got married, even developed a business that had made him quite rich. Unless for the business, even his own daughters knew nothing of these.

The police finally found the man who threw acid at Gillian’s face, but Mayberry – that’s what he was called – had nothing to do with George Ashton. So George Ashton’s fear might be wrong after all (the man wanted to harm Penny Ashton for interfering with God’s creatures, but he got the wrong girl). No sooner had he discovered this fact than he discovered that his other boss, Cregar the politician, had been seeing Penny’s professor, Lumsden. Things just got more suspicious.

Then finally George Ashton and Benson were seen in Stockholm, both under different names. Of course Malcolm and his men were at him for once, but things were a lot more complicated that they had anticipated for Russians were spying on Ashton as well. Malcolm got Ashton at last, but hardly had they began talking than a bullet shot through his head by, wait for it, Benson himself! Benson was then shot by one of Malcolm’s man, Henty. But not before he died did Ashton gave Malcolm a train timetable.

Malcolm and his team then went back to England. Most head departments agreed that this failure had proved Malcolm’s lack of competence to undertake the job. However, Ogilvie wanted him to continue , and wanting to see from different angle, Malcolm looked for Benson. Much to his amazement, Benson’s file had disappeared, so Malcolm alerts his superior about it. Suspicions arose. Malcolm tracked Benson’s record to the army (where he worked some thirty years ago) and found that the real Benson had died before 1947. I thought to myself, great. Another impostor to add to the drama. Even more, Benson was actually a spy for Cregar.

Malcolm then realized the model railway that was hidden at Ashton’s house is actually a computer with lots of studies about genetics. At the same time, Penny disappears. Malcolm goes after her and finds her in government’s secret lab in a remote island ran by Cregar. There he saw Penny lying on a bed, badly ill from new bacteria in the lab. Cregar refused to take her to the hospital because of ‘security risk’ and in turn Malcolm blamed him for not taking Penny’s advice on the lab’s safety. This initiated a hard feeling between the two men, and they ended up breaking a glass containing new mutant bacteria. Realizing the danger, Cregar fought his way out but fainted halfway to the door.

Malcolm managed to make contact with one of his man, so that three of them can be transported safely to the mainland. After extensive care from the best doctors from the U.S, Penny recovered. Unfortunately Malcolm wasn’t as lucky, for the unknown bacteria in the lab had caused him malignant cancer and he was to live no more than a year.

I was totally satisfied of the story until this part. Why didn’t Desmond Bagley make a fairy-tale ending for Penny and Malcolm? So Malcolm retired, and spent his last months with Penny in Ireland. Here Malcolm wrote about what things government do in the name of ‘the people’, and how they control things like science and media while Penny took a great care nursing and proofreading his writing. I didn’t know how short their happiness last, for the brightest fire blaze the shortest. But happiness, nevertheless.

oxford cover

This is the best Oxford book I have read for I didn’t put it down until I finished reading it. In my opinion, it makes sense that government controls things because it’s their job to protect the people. It only gets worse if people like Cregar dominates it. However, from the scale 1 to 10, well, I give this book a twelve!

“We have met The Enemy,
and he is us”

written by Tamara Ey Firsty

Heat and Dust : The Story of India

A while ago, I read a book called Heat and Dust. The abridged version, actually, but the same story nevertheless. I’d like to share it with you….

Authentic Author : Ruth Prawer Jhabvala

 

The character “I” in this story is told to be an independent young woman who was born and lived in England. Her grandfather, Douglas Rivers, was once an assistant of chief in Satipur, India, when British still colonized India. He was married with Olivia, but a scandal happened back then in 1923, when everything changed in, especially, Olivia’s life. Douglas remarried with Tessie Crawford, had a son, who lived in England and was told to be the father of this story’s writer.images

The writer (name is not told) had always been interested in Olivia’s life story, but it’s not until his dad died she got some important information. One day due to Marcia’s (Olivia’s sister) death, a friend Harry gave the Rivers family Olivia’s letters to Marcia about her life in India. The writer kept these letters, and in 1970s, she decided she needed to know more about Olivia, and left for India.

The rest of this book shows the parts of writer’s diary and Olivia’s life, comparing their life in the same place in India but in the different time. Their life was completely different but yet the same in some strange ways. Here it goes…

Being the first wife of a busy official in a foreign country with no one else to share thoughts was pretty depressing for Olivia. Sure she loved her husband Douglas, and he loved her very much as well, but during the day, Olivia only had her piano and she was beginning to get bored. One day the Nawab, an Indian prince, invited British’s officials in Satipur for dinner. Olivia was excited because this was new to her, and she totally enjoyed it when the Nawab seemed to have special interest in her.

Few days later, the Nawab came to her house. They had a good time chatting in the living room. Olivia was clearly thinking the Nawab was a good man. One day, they both went to Baba Firdaus’ shrine, a holy place where Hindu women usually come if they wish to have a baby. But the place was believed to be built by a Muslim, and this aroused controversy every year at Husband Wedding’s Day.  People are killed and injured.

Olivia then started to hear bad news about the Nawab. The British believed that he was a leader of a robber gang that’s been robbing and arousing fear for local villagers. Also the fact that he did nothing to stop the controversy on Husband Wedding’s Day or the widow-burning custom where wives were burnt alive together with their dead husbands. Hearing this talk didn’t make Olivia lose faith in her new friend and she kept visiting the Nawab’s palace during the day, which Douglas didn’t even know, and defended him when the other British talked about his bad.

The climax is when Olivia and the Nawab went to Baba Firdaus’ shrine together. At that time Olivia and Douglas were planning of having a baby, so of course Olivia’s hoping this visit could grant her wish. But after visiting, she and the Nawab made out under a tree…

Which is kind of what the writer also did.

When the writer arrived in Bombay’s airport, she found that India had developed and looked different than what Olivia described in her letters. She stayed in a missionary guesthouse for a while until she went to Satipur and rented a room in Inder Lal’s home. Inder Lal worked for the government, yet he and his family was poor. But he was kind. He took the writer to the building that used to be the Nawab’s palace, the Rivers’ home, the Saunders’ home, etc, and he introduced her to many things about living in India.

She got used to live there, even made friends with Inder Lal’s mom and her ‘holy’ friend, Maji. But her best friend was still Inder Lal. But then Inder Lal’s wife Ritu got some sort of mental illness and as Maji suggested, had to leave for a pilgrimage to the Himalayas. Inder Lal’s mom and a homeless man named Chid accompanied her.

Either that was because he was lonely or he really liked the writer, Inder Lal started to spend more time with her. Their story ended up the same with Olivia’s – both of them went to the shrine and made out.

Olivia and the writer might not have shared the same blood and certainly had never met each other. But they did have the same destiny as the made out thing got them both pregnant, and they both tried to abort the baby. Olivia’s abortion was done by two Indian midwives ordered by the Begum, the Nawab’s mother. At night she bled and Douglas brought her to the hospital, but of course it was too late, she miscarried. But the doctor, Dr.Saunder, recognized the sign of Indian midwives and accused Olivia for abortion. She ran to the Nawab’s home and never came back, living the rest of her life in a house provided by the Nawab in the mountains.

The writer, on the other hand, cancelled her abortion plan right after Maji the midwives rubbed her hand on her stomach. She decided to keep the baby, but she would, like Olivia, stayed in the mountain. She would be there in a religious group’s place, stayed during her pregnancy, oh, maybe even longer. Actually, she considered staying up there for the rest of her life, just like Olivia did.

In the terrible heat and dust of India, people changed. Life changed.